Canada has become the first country to ratify the Finnish and Swedish accession protocols to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday.
The movement continues NATO leaders officially invite the two nations join the alliance during a summit in Madrid last week, and brings the two countries closer to becoming full members of NATO.
“Canada has every confidence in the ability of Finland and Sweden to quickly and effectively integrate into NATO and contribute to the collective defense of the Alliance,” Trudeau said in a statement.
“Your membership will strengthen NATO and we call on all NATO members to move quickly to complete their ratification processes to limit opportunities for interference by adversaries.”
According to The Associated Press, the 30 NATO allies signed accession protocols on Tuesday and sent offers of membership to each nation for legislative approval. Both Canada and Denmark rushed to deliver their ratification documents.
“Thank you, Canada! Canada is the first country to surrender its instrument of ratification to the United States Department of State, the depositary of the North Atlantic Treaty!” Sweden’s ambassador tweeted to Canada Urban Ahlin.
In Canada, the federal government took steps at the national level to move quickly on ratification, Trudeau said. This included the issuance orders in council authorizing Foreign Minister Melanie Joly to “take the necessary steps to ratify, on behalf of Canada.”
Before Parliament closed for the summer, the House of Commons debated and voted on a motion signaling its support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
In May, the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee approved a motion expressing “strong support” for the two Scandinavian countries joining the alliance. The motion also asked all NATO members to approve their applications as soon as possible.
A debate on this motion was held on June 1, and unanimously approved when it is put to the vote the following day.
“Russia’s war in Ukraine has made something that was once only theoretical a reality. An authoritarian state led by an autocrat has attacked a democracy: it has shown that it is willing and able to attack a democracy. It has made it clear that democracies who are alone and not part of military alliances are the most vulnerable,” Conservative MP and foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said during the House debate. “This is why it has become necessary to bring both Sweden and Finland into the NATO alliance. This is an urgent matter.”
Also taking part in the debate, NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson said she supports Finland and Sweden doing everything they can to prevent Russia from further threatening their countries.
“Before the new invasion of Ukraine, support for NATO membership was around 20 to 30 percent in Sweden and Finland. Now 76 percent of Finns support NATO membership. Very simply, Vladimir Putin and the aggression of the Russian Federation are responsible for escalating tensions in the region and driving Sweden and Finland to seek NATO membership,” McPherson said.
Since NATO member countries have different processes to complete ratification, it could be some time before the two nations formally become part of the long-standing intergovernmental military alliance.
With files from CTV News Channel Senior Political Correspondent Mike Le Couteur